All of us want new ideas. In fact, some of us are just waiting for that
one “killer” idea that will take us to newer heights. So, where exactly
can we get some new ideas?
Here is my attempt on this – 10 ideas to get new ideas.
Watch what is being currently discussed in the media. What areas are
getting real attention? These are typically the areas that matter most
to people. While you are reading news or watching TV, the general focus
is not on new opportunities. You can change that and say one day in a
week, your relationship to the media will be different. On that day,
you would observe everything from the viewpoint of identifying a new
opportunity for yourself or for someone in your network.
2. Knowledge arbitrage
If I remember right, the term was coined by one of my heroes, Gary
Hamel in his groundbreaking book Leading the revolution. The concept
is simple – what is successful in one industry may have applicability
in another industry. My friend Steve
created a company called “Bag Borrow or Steal” (renting luxury handbags) based on the concept of Netflix (renting movies.)
Knowledge arbitrage also works geographically – meaning you can
evaluate whether something that is extremely successful in one
geography can be suitably adapted and launched in another geography.
I wrote recently on the topic – “Why you can’t ignore blogs?” Blogs are
one of the best things to happen on the internet. You get direct access
to some of the brilliant thinkers out there for FREE. With the choice
of right set of blogs and other website resources (like Squidoo) you can turn Internet can become a virtual university for you.
There are enough ideas put forward by these thinkers almost on a daily
basis. Approach the world of blogs as a student rather than a critic
and you will start reaping higher benefits.
4. Harness the power of association
The more you associate things the faster you will get new ideas.
Knowledge arbitrage is one way of associating things. Here is a simple
way to develop your association muscle. List all the people that are
close to you in your network. Also list their current projects and
interests – basically list what matters most to these people. Once you
have this data handy, whenever you meet a new person, see if there is a
match in the interests of the new person and one of your earlier
contacts in your network. If there is a mutual gain possible, connect
these two people without expecting a gain.
The hidden benefit
from the above mentioned approach: The more you do this, the higher the
chances that the power of reciprocation will kick in and more people
will be introduced to you. The more new people in your life, more fresh
perspectives they will bring into your life. In turn, more new ideas
will flow in.
5. Talking to your customers
Your customers are running real businesses. Talking to them about their
businesses will give you a sneak preview of the world in your
customer’s eyes. That’s a fresh perspective right there. The more you
have an open dialogue, the higher the chances
of hitting on something that you might not have thought of on your own.
6. From a coach
Good coaches have a great way of rising one level above your problem.
They look at a problem at a different altitude and hence get a
different perspective. I have personally experienced this a number of
times – I plan to discuss a particular problem with my coach and during
the discussion, I probably get ideas to solve one or more problems that
I had no plans of discussing with him. As a bonus, I get a few ideas
that will open up new opportunities or will prevent a problem that has
not occurred yet.
If you are dominating a conversation with whatever you know, you
probably will impress the hell out of the other person but you won’t
learn anything new just because of the fact that whatever you talked
will be from whatever you knew. Observe your talk/listen ratio and if
you need to make changes, please do.
Here’s a tip:
The general temptation when someone is talking is to figure out what
you are going to tell after the person finishes his sentence (or even
pauses for a second.) Resist that temptation – in fact, why don’t you
start figuring out what new question to ask the person so that you can
make him continue to talk?
8. Right attitude
Yes, that’s right. You need to have an attitude with a combination of
humility, curiosity, inquisitiveness minus arrogance. Having the right
attitude can just act as a catalyst to get new ideas. Flatlining is a
big no-no. Curiosity and inquisitiveness will force you to dig deeper
In a nut-shell, who you are will determine what opportunities will open
up for you and your attitude makes up a large part of who you are.
Yes, this may sound simplistic but you can just think about new ideas.
Let your imagination run wild. You can make up new stuff in your mind.
Remember, we are not executing on everything that we are thinking about
so don’t put constraints on what you can think.
I want to be clear here. When I say think – I mean think. Not the kind
when you are doing something else and in the side, you are also
“thinking.” Real thinking is hard work and you need to set aside some
quality time to do that.
10. Ask for them
Last but not the least, you can just ask for them. When you meet
someone bright, rather than mindlessly talking about weather, sports
and politics – you can ask them for their thoughts where they think the
new opportunities will be. You will be amazed at what you will discover.
This works for a simple reason. Most bright people have a ton of ideas
but they won’t start dishing them out in random. They also don’t have
the time to execute on all the ideas that come into their mind. If you
have a good relationship with them, most people won’t mind sharing
them. All you need to do is ASK!
Obviously, the above list is not complete but I hope it has given you some food for thought.
Have a fantastic week ahead!